Born into a family of winegrowers, Xavier Parguey inherits land and properties in the Doubs, his native region, but his resources are much reduced after WWI, in which he takes part, being interned in a German camp. On his return, he becomes a tramp in his native village. Earning a modest living poaching and making grape carriers, he is then given the nickname Zouzou. From around 1920, he uses a billhook to carve little wooden tools — cabbage dibbles, mallets, etc.— whose function gradually disappears beneath their figurative exuberance.
Jean Dubuffet visited the National Museum of Folk Art and Traditions in Paris in 1945, where he discovered work by Xavier Parguey and became interested in it.